After Draw, UCSD Readies for Playoffs

Senior midfielder Ali Lai led the Tritons with seven goals in 2007 but went scoreless in UCSD’s regular season finale, a 0-0 draw against the Coyotes on Oct. 30. (Sanh Luong/Guardian)

The UCSD women’s soccer team put forth a merciless offensive
attack against rival Cal State San Bernardino on Oct. 30 that yielded no
immediate results. Despite their efforts, the Tritons were unable to scratch
out a game-winning goal, settling for a 0-0 draw. The game was the last of the
regular season, and left the 17th-ranked Tritons with a 12-2-2 overall record
(9-2-2 CCAA).

The team will now travel to Carson, Calif.
to participate in the California Collegiate Athletic Association Championship.
With 29 standing points, UCSD ended its season as the Southern Division’s
first-place squad, giving them the No. 2 seed in the upcoming championships. In
the first round on Nov. 2, the Tritons will face off against third-ranked Cal
State Los Angeles.

Last week’s fires wreaked havoc on the soccer schedule,
postponing the weekend’s games and cutting into the pre-playoff downtime. The
poor air quality forced the Tritons to shake up their normal routine.

“All of last week we practiced inside the gym and we really
only got one, maybe two good days out on the field,” senior midfielder Ali Lai
said. “It definitely killed our momentum that we have had in the last few weeks,
but we’ll be fine for the playoffs.”

While UCSD was able to play against Cal State San Bernardino
at night, its match against Cal Poly Pomona was canceled. Because the
rescheduled game would have taken place during the week, the Cal Poly Pomona
team was afraid that travel would have affected its players’ midterms, instead
opting to cancel the match.

According to head coach Brian McManus, the Tritons would
have liked the practice.

“The Pomona game was obviously disappointing not being able
to get that game in,” McManus said. “That will be something that gets brought
up at the conference meetings this weekend.”

Although Cal Poly Pomona forfeited its game and UCSD
received zero standing points, the team’s dominance over the first half of the
year guaranteed their eventual place atop the division standings.

It was clear the Tritons did not take the tie against Cal
State San Bernardino for want of scoring opportunities. UCSD outshot its
opponents 21-5 and completely dominated the time of possession. As has been the
case in its past few matches, the team was unable to capitalize on its many
chances and claw across a goal.

The game started with both teams playing at a relatively
slower pace and merely exchanging possessions. Toward the end of the first
half, the Tritons regained their legs and started attacking. Despite
controlling the ball for the whole game, the team seemed unable to create open
looks near the net and could not connect more than a few solid passes deep in
San Bernardino territory.

McManus was proud of his team for quickly readjusting after
its week off and for gaining some good momentum heading into playoffs.

“From the last 15 minutes of the first half on we really
dominated the game,” he said. “The only danger was the breakaway, but that was
only because we were trying so hard to win. Give [Cal State San Bernardino]
credit, they defended well with the keeper coming up with some pretty big
saves. If we had had a few better shots in the box we would have nicked it.”

Per tradition, the last home game of the season was Senior
Night, when all the graduating seniors are honored. Leaving after this season
will be defenders Stacy Johnson, Alie Avina, and Nicole Pepper; midfielders
Lai, Chelsey Campbell, Caitlin Ryan and Rachel Lindenfel; and forwards Kathy
Sepulveda and Lauren Segars. A large crowd turned out for the final home game
of the 2007 season, with many parents visibly — and vocally — in attendance.

“It was a real good crowd for the last game,” Lai said. “We
even got a better crowd than what the guys’ team brought out. It was really
nice to play in front of my family and friends.”

The upcoming CCAA championships and NCAA regionals will
offer these Triton veterans the chance to get at least a few more games in the
Triton blue and white. The teammates will hopefully achieve their goal since
first putting on a UCSD jersey: a national championship.

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